Curious Small Sip #44: Adelaide Hills

Black Angus cows in K1 by Geoff Hardy a vineyard in Adelaide Hills, South Australia

Adelaide Hills is a narrow strip of land that stretches about 70 km north to south in the Mount Lofty Ranges, due east of Adelaide, the capital of Southern Australia. It’s both one of Australia’s oldest and youngest wine regions.

Winemaking here dates back to the mid-1800s. However, most of the wineries went bankrupt in 1900, when a preferential trade arrangement with the UK ended. It wasn’t until the 1970s that winemaking returned to the region at a significant scale.

The region has a varied, elevated landscape that is among the coolest in Australia. As a result, grapes that can handle colder temperatures dominate here. Sauvignon Blanc (the dominant grape variety), Chardonnay, Riesling and, more recently, Grüner Veltliner are the popular white grape varieties. Pinot Noir and Shiraz are the most widely planted grapes for red wines.

The Shiraz and Chardonnays aren’t your typical loud Ozzie wines. Adelaide Hills Shiraz is more modest in the mouth than the big, bold numbers produced in warmer South Australian regions further north. And the Chardonnays are textured and lean, with more acidity than you’d typically expect from an Australian bottle.

The region produces sparkling wines too. The altitude encourages acidity and flavour in the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes, resulting in refined, crisp bubblies.

Pic: K1 by Geoff Hardy

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